An Equity Lens for ESEA Reauthorization

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Recently, bi-partisan leadership in the U.S. Congress invited suggestions for the upcoming reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).  In our comments, West Wind urged Congress to pay explicit attention to equity not only as an over-arching goal of reauthorization, but as a frame for reviewing each and every provision.

Our experiences over the past twenty years suggest that without such explicit attention, we simply will not achieve equitable results.  For decades we have worked on standards, assessments, and data systems and we have been tracking inequities.  But our responses have been limited at best.

For example, in response to demonstrated “gaps” in reading achievement by race, we focused explicit attention on reading while we systematically avoided addressing underlying issues of race.  And, even in the cases where the rising tide of improved student achievement did lift all boats state- or region-wide, it did not decrease racial disparities.

We believe must study and disrupt the underlying causes of the patterns of disparities we are tracking. By examining ESEA through the lens of equity, we might just come up with strategies to finally achieve our vision of equitable outcomes.

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